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How to Reduce Customer Waits with Properly Trained Employees

Nobody likes to stand in line, be stuck on hold, or have to sit in a waiting room, but it’s a necessary part of life in almost every business. If you own a business, you should be trying to reduce wait times at all costs, because customers that don’t have to wait are typically much more satisfied with their experience and will be more likely to come back in the future. There are a lot of ways that you can reduce wait times (or at least the perception of a long wait), but few are more important than training your employees properly.

This includes all facets of the wait- you want to train them on how to deal with an unexpectedly long wait, how to reduce the chances of a wait in the first place, how to get customers through a line quickly… the list goes on. The fact of the matter is that if you spend a lot of time training your employees, your customers will spend a lot less time waiting when they visit your business.

Employee Training Tip 1: Identify Strengths and Weaknesses

Watch your employees during a rush, take note of which employees work quickly and which ones don’t, and then determine why they are either having success or trouble dealing with the wait. Let’s say you own a restaurant and find out that John is slow because he doesn’t know the necessary shortcuts on the register, and Ashley is fast because she’s constantly pre-bussing her tables. If you own a clothing store, you might see that Jenny is slow because she’s focusing on folding returned clothes instead of grabbing the next customer and folding later, and Tyler is fast because he’s already getting the register ready for the next transaction while his current customer is still gathering her things.

Once you know what’s working and what isn’t, you can more accurately create a plan on how best to train your employees on reducing wait times. This may solve the problem right then and there, but if it doesn’t, here are three more tips on how to reduce wait times for most businesses through employee training.

Employee Training Tip 2: Train on Your POS

One of the biggest problem areas when it comes to wait times is the POS system. You should be running a system that is intuitive and easy to use, as a system with too many screens and buttons will inevitably cause wait times to last longer. You should also extensively train your employees on how to use the system.

With time comes the ability to hit buttons and complete transactions simply based off muscle memory, so make sure your employees are all getting adequate time to use the system. For those employees that are having a harder time learning the intricacies of your POS, put them on it during off-hours so that they’re not holding up the line during a rush.

In addition to your POS, extensive training should be given with every piece of technology you use in your store. Even if it’s just a tablet, you need to know that every employee is comfortable and fast when using it.

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Employee Training Tip 3: Teach the Art of Multitasking

Multitaskers get more done, and when more is getting done, wait times decrease. If an employee is having problems with the POS, they should be doing something else (whether it’s bagging items or greeting another table) while they wait for you to solve the problem. When your employees can devote attention to more than one task at a time, such as engaging a customer, putting a caller on hold and completing a transaction all at the same time, your wait times will plummet.

Sometimes multitasking backfires because employees will distractedly mess one task up while focusing too hard on another. This is where identifying your employee’s strengths and weaknesses comes in- don’t expect them to do something they can’t right off the bat, but recognize who, where, and how you need to train them effectively.

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Employee Training Tip 4: The Importance of Initiative

Employees who are masters of the POS and can multi-task successfully are valuable employees indeed. But it’s the employees who take the initiative that can put a huge dent in your wait times. You or another manager won’t be around all the time to solve every problem that comes up, so you need employees who will go above and beyond to help customers all on their own.

Related Post: How to Balance Employee and Customer Satisfaction

Training employees on taking initiative works best through setting an example – at your next store meeting, show employees what to do instead of just telling them to take initiative, and let them know the scope of what they’re able to do when you’re not there. The more responsibility you give an individual employee, the less he will need to rely on you or his co-workers.

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Summing Up

If you focus on these employee training tips at your next training session, don’t be surprised to find that you’re running a much more well-oiled machine and that wait times are a thing of the past. Once you’ve implemented these tips, be sure to download our free eBook with additional queue management tips.

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